Tokyo Diaries: Konbini and Depachika Eats + Our Favorite Rooftop Garden

Since it was Jacob’s first trip to Tokyo, John and I decided to plan our itinerary around kid-friendly activities, and just eat wherever was most convenient for us.  This was pretty easy to do, as there were so many restaurants to choose from in our neighborhood, and also because we bought a lot of food from the konbini and depachika.

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  • A konbini is basically a convenience store, such as 7-11, Lawson’s, and Family Mart, among others.  You can find one or two on almost every block in Tokyo, and they all have a deli section where you can buy ready-to-eat food.
  • A depachika is the food court located in the basement of many Japanese malls/department stores.  There are no tables and chairs to be found in a depachika, and food is packed to-go.  You either eat them on the go, at home or in your hotel room, or you can take them up to the building’s rooftop garden (if it has one) and enjoy your food there. We checked out several rooftop gardens around Shinjuku; read to the end of this post to find out which one was our favorite!

IMG_4734Onigiris are our absolute favorite thing to stock up on at the konbini.  You can get them in various shapes and flavors, and my favorite one was the salmon & mayonnaise.  There were a lot of really good vegan options too (soy sauce, mushroom, pickled vegetables, etc).

Jacob loves onigiris, so we always had a few pieces in his backpack so he could snack on one whenever he was hungry!  They’re really the perfect combination of carbs + protein,  so easy to eat on the go, and really affordable at Y100 each (around P38).

IMG_4747You can find lots of healthy options at your neighborhood konbini from calorie-labelled onigiris, perfectly boiled eggs, salads, and even sweet potatoes baked in their skin.

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I also shared these glazed shoestring sweet potatoes with black sesame seeds with Jacob, so yum!

IMG_5507The Lawson’s konbini chain has a line of “natural” and “healthy” packaged food under the brand Natural Lawson.  Their product line includes Calbee vegetable chips.

IMG_5505Fresh lotus chips from a small supermarket are a unique Japanese snack.  These are absolutely delicious!

IMG_5494Depachikas are a lot more expensive than konbinis, and can even be more expensive than eating at the small streetside restaurants frequented by salarymen.  I would, however, recommend helping yourself to some goodies from the Shinjuku Takashimaya depachika, so you can take them upstairs to enjoy in their beautiful rooftop garden.

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IMG_5531IMG_5530IMG_5524IMG_5532These photos were taken from various depachikas and I can’t even remember which is which.  But here’s a sampling of what we bought:

IMG_5658IMG_5659Shinjuku Taashimaya’s Rooftop Garden is the perfect place to enjoy your depachika goodies in good weather!  It’s not actually on Takashimaya’s top floor, and we went to a bit of trouble to find it.  The garden is on the 13th floor, with stairs leading down to the 12th.

IMG_4451When we found it, we thought it was just a tiny area, but the garden goes around the mall, and opens up to a bigger space with benches and a beautiful view of the Tokyo skyline.  Some restaurants have tables and chairs out on the garden, but obviously you can’t sit there unless you are eating in one of those restaurants.

IMG_4459But it doesn’t really matter because the benches are already perfect for a little rooftop garden picnic!

IMG_4453Here is the breathtaking view from the 13th floor:

IMG_4447IMG_4448Many malls and department stores close off their rooftop gardens when it rains, and it’s no fun sitting on wet benches anyway, so it’s important to check the weather forecast before you schedule your rooftop picnic.  I’d recommend doing this at least once during your Tokyo trip.  John, Jacob, and I really enjoyed it!

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You can read more of my Tokyo posts here.

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